So you have decided to or are thinking of bringing a new life into this world. If you have done research or talked to others that have conceived or attempted to conceive a child then you have probably heard quite a bit about ovulation and rightfully so. So when do you ovulate? To understand the importance of ovulation it is important to understand the different phases of the menstrual cycle and the parts it play in the reproductive process.
The follicular phase is the start of your menstrual cycle and starts on day 1. In this phase two hormones, follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone are sent from the brain to the ovaries via blood. FSH is often injected as part of IVF or IUI to help stimulate the growth of eggs. On average a woman produces about 15 to 20 eggs or follicles. Throughout this phase estrogen levels will rise and FSH production will slow and eventually stop allowing the harmonization required to limit the number of follicles produced. Eventually a dominant follicle will emerge which will suppress the others and continue to produce estrogen.
Ovulation begins about half way through the menstrual cycle or 14 days after the follicular phase begins. You may have heard quite a bit about ovulation as it is the time that the egg becomes available to be fertilized or as one of your friends may say “time to get busy”. The egg is released from the ovary and travels down the fallopian tube for fertilization. Your cervix will also produce thick mucus at this point which will help the man’s sperm travel towards the egg for fertilization. As this is an extremely important time when trying to get pregnant, there are ovulation tests and prediction kits such as the Clearblue Digital Ovulation Test and the Clearblue Fertility Monitor. Ovulation only lasts approximately 12-24 hours, but since sperm can live 3-5 days people often refer to the 3-5 days prior to ovulation as the time that a couple should focus on getting pregnant.
The luteal phase begins immediately after ovulation. Remember during ovulation when the egg was released from the ovary? The human body in a very efficient manner transforms the follicle that had released the egg into a structure called the corpus luteum which in turn secretes progesterone which prepares the uterus to receive a fertilized egg. If the egg was fertilized successfully it will travel through the fallopian tube to implant in the uterus. If fertilization was unsuccessful, the egg does not implant in the uterine wall and instead passes through the uterus. The lining of the uterus is broken down and sheds beginning a menstrual period that usually last 3-5 days. Once complete, the entire menstrual cycle begins again.